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Sep 15 2016

Could Texas Really Secede?

This is not a simple question and needs to be broken up into pieces for analysis. There is an issue of whether or not secession is permissible in the United States. And then there is also an issue of whether or not Texas could reshape itself into a viable nation.

LEGAL

While the Constitution and Declaration of Independence clearly reserve the right to change or even overthrow an oppressive government through violent revolution, the US Civil War was fought over the right of a State to leave the Union. Those who argue there is no right to leave, say the result of the war settled the issue. Those who oppose that viewpoint say the only reason the North thinks they won is because they think the war is over. This issue appears to be settled in the minds of legal experts, but war is an extra-legal process. Wars are fought over issues like this when no solution can be reached through diplomacy and a system of justice. It seems unlikely the US would allow Texas to leave the Union agreeably. If Texas decided to leave without an agreement, it would be likely to have to be settled through both economic action and military action.

ECONOMIC

There is little doubt that Texas could be self sustaining economically without the US to support it. Ranked by GDP, the Texas economy is twelfth largest in the world, ahead of South Korea and Australia. Texas contributes more to the US budget than it gets back, making separation a plus on that count. Texas has one third of the known US petroleum deposits and produces the most wind power in the nation. Houston is considered to be the energy capital of the world, and the port of Houston is the sixth largest in the world in terms of total cargo volume. Texas leads the nation in cattle, sheep and goat products, cotton, and cereal. Texas is a major center for computer technology, aerospace engineering, defense contracting, and medical research. Texas has the most airports, the largest highway system, over 1,000 seaports, 3 of the top ten largest cities, an independent electric power grid, the most farm acreage, the most cement and crushed stone production, and 15 major rivers. More Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Texas than any other state.

Taking a list of the top 20 largest GDP/nations (large economy) in the world and sorting it by GDP per capita (wealth) yields the following list:

SWITZERLAND – $80K
TEXAS – $61K
AUSTRALIA – $56K
US – $56K
NETHERLANDS – $44K
UK – $44K
CANADA – $43K
GERMANY – $41K
FRANCE – $36K
JAPAN – $32K
ITALY – $30K
SOUTH KOREA – $27K
SPAIN – $26K
SAUDI ARABIA – $20K

An economic embargo is a tactic commonly used in conflict at the national level. While Texas might need some imports to thrive, it also produces many products that are exported. Oil in particular could be denied to the US in response to a hostile embargo against Texas on other products. Embargoes are often tested and either sustained or broken based on the ability to enforce them with military power.

MILITARY

Texas has over 170,000 active military personnel, 55,000 more reserve forces, and over 20,000 in army national guard and air national guard units. There are 8 Air Force bases, 5 Army bases, 2 Naval Air Stations, 8 Coast Guard stations, and the only nuclear weapon assembly plant in the nation. The F-16, F-35, F-22, V-22, and H-1 are all manufactured in Texas.

FINANCIAL

A major issue with succession would be sorting out the financial balance between the state and the federal govt. However, since Texas contributes more to the Federal budget than it receives in return (a “donor” state) even an abrupt, non-negotiated break away would seem to benefit Texas once everything got sorted out.

OTHER

Texas has an independent electric power grid. The rest of the US is divided into an Eastern grid and a Western grid.

Texas is oil rich and has existing infrastructure to become a standalone oil power.

Texas has four nuclear power plants and uranium mines to supply fuel.

While some Texans are in favor of becoming an independent nation, others are opposed to it. It is not clear how this division would shift or how opposing issues would be resolved.